The VPl gene of enterovirus 71 (EV71) was synthesized, construct a recombinant plasmid pET15b/VP1 and expressed in E. coli BL21. The recombinant VP1 protein could specifically react with EV71-infected patient sera without the cross-reaction with serum antibodies of coxsackievirus A16 (CA16), A4, A5, B3 and B5 as well as echovirus 6. In acute and convalescent phases, IgM and IgG antibodies of 182 serum samples were detected by ELISA with recombinant VP1 protein as a coated antigen. The results showed that the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) of IgM antibodies in serum samples for the diagnosis of EV71 infection were 90.1, 98.4, 98.8 and 88.7%, respectively; similarly, those of IgG antibodies in serum samples were 82.4, 89.1, 91.5 and 78.1%, respectively. Five of 80 samples (6.25%) from CA16-infected patients were detected positive by ELISA with recombinant VP1 protein in which indicated the cross reactions and 0 of 5 samples from patients infected with other enteroviruses including CA4, CA5, CB3, CB5 and echovirus 6. Therefore, the recombinant VP1 protein of EV7l may provide a theoretical reference for establishing an effective antibody screening of IgM for EV71-infected patients with clinically suspected hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD).